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Sheila Clark

Author's note - the punctuation mistakes are deliberate.

We were'nt far from Gamma Triangulum, where Starfleet had ordered us to survey the fourth planet. They did'nt tell us why they wanted such an unpleasant planet surveyed, they just left us to get on with it.

"Will we be able to survive without life support units?" Jim asked me.

I looked up from the sensor. "I doubt it, Captain," I told him. "The sensors show that the oxygen content of the atmosphere is only about half of what we need. We could survive a little while, but not for long. There is'nt any sign of surface water either."

"We'd better have a shuttle standing by with a water supply, then," Bones suggested, taking for granted that he would, as usual, accompany us.

"Yes, I was going to order that," Jim said. "In fact, I think we'll go down by shuttle this time."

I saw Bone's pleased grin with inner amusement. He hated the transporter, for no clear reason that I could understand, but probably for a similar reason to why I had never liked the escalator at Starfleet Academy. It would have been so undignified to have stumbled coming off it. Not that I had ever done so... but the fear was always there. Bones, I suspected, was afraid that one day the transporter would only half materialise him... with as little reason. Humans are illogical, and contact with them... Well, there is a degree of contamination, hence my pointless dislike of a perfectly efficient means of gaining height.

We took a geologist, Lt. Carstairs, and two probably unnecessary Security Guards, Abrams and Wills. Jim never bothered when I was there. It was very pleasant to feel so trusted.

We landed and began the survey at once. The guards patrolled around us while we made our first investigations. Bones was interested in the few primitive plants that grew there. They had to have very long roots, I thought at first, to survive in this place that was even drier than the ShiKahr Desert. Then Bones pointed out that in fact they had no roots; only a sort of 'holdfast' to keep them in place. I recorded the fact on my tricorder, and that they must obtain moisture by making it themselves, inside themselves, by combining gases from the air. Fascinating! Mr. Carstairs attracted my attention next, and I called Jim as soon as I saw Carstair's results.

There was dilithium here - in a crude form, certainly, not pure crystals - but usable. Very definitely usable.

Suddenly Abrams yelled. We looked round at him but before we could move, he disappeared - hit by a killing phaser beam.

We scattered. Just in front of me, Wills stopped, his own phaser raised to cover me, and almost at once he too vanished. I zigzagged, hearing a phaser bolt pass me close, and threw myself behind a rock.

Why was I so breathless? I had'nt run far. Then I realised. The back of my suit must have been holed by the nearness of the bolt. And there was, of course, no way that I could reach the hole.


It was Jim. I thumbed my suit radio to transmit. "Here, Captain," I gasped.

"What's wrong?"

"My suit's holed... Leave me."

Then I saw him running towards me, dodging from side to side as he came. Phaser bolts hissed past him, somehow missing him, and he flung himself flat at my side.

"Where's the hole?"

He pressed a patch over it. Moments later I drew a deep, satisfying breath.

"O.K. now, Spock?"

"Yes, Captain. My thanks."

I saw him grin, then he turned and peered towards the spot where the attack had originated.

"Do you know who attacked us?" I asked.

"Klingons," he answered.

"But there was'nt a ship... "

"Their ship must have left a survey team, then gone on somewhere. But how they hoped to get away with murder - " He broke off as a phaser bolt knocked chips from the rock that sheltered us.

"You should have stayed away," I said. "There's no point in us both dying."

"Spock, do you really think that I'd leave you?" he asked.

"No, Jim. But it is'nt logical, just the same."

"Oh, Spock, Spock. After all these years, you still haven't learned that Humans can make illogic work perfectly well."

"I do know it, Jim. I just find it difficult to remember."

He chuckled, then went on seriously. "Spock, I want you to show yourself for a moment. That way, I'll get a clear shot at them."

"You're going to kill them?" I asked, seeing him slot his phaser to the lethal mark.

"It's the only way, Spock. Show them that we mean business. And after all, they started it. Two of our men are dead."

This was my only... criticism... of my Captain; the ease with which, at times, he could kill.

Obediently, I raised my head for a moment then ducked back. The phaser bolt hit the top of the rock, sending more chips flying, then Jim fired.

"Got him!"

I crawled a few yards and lifted my head again. A distant phaser fired, but nothing came near us.

"Good," said Jim. "That's Bones or Carstairs."

Another phaser fired in the distance then there was silence. "Come on!" Jim said.

Together we ran towards the shuttle. No-one tried to stop us. Bones and Carstairs were both beside it. We piled in and took off. When we reached the Enterprise, there was still no sign of the Klingon ship. Jim made his report to Starfleet. The matter was out of our hands now. The future of the planet was in the hands of the politicians, in agreement with the Organian Peace Treaty...

The Grandmother looked up from the essay without reading any further, to stare accusingly at the School Doctor.

"You asked me to come here to discuss... such a fantasy?"

"Exactly, Madam. Such a fantasy. It is, you understand, extremely unusual for a boy so young to produce such a rounded-off story. His grasp of vocabulary is likewise most advanced for his years. It indicates that he could have a highly lucrative career as a storyteller, although I realise that you must hope for something better for him."

"Indeed yes," the Grandmother replied. "His father wishes him to follow a political career."

"I understand his father is a politician himself."

"Yes, Doctor. He is Ambassador to Shassar."

The Doctor nodded. "A demanding position," he conceded. "I can fully understand why he left the boy with you."

"It was not entirely the danger involved that led my son to leave the boy behind," the Grandmother said. "We both thought it better if his schooling was uninterrupted. Besides, his chances of a decent schooling in Shassar would have been slight. The Shassarans are still little more than barbarians."

"What of the boy's mother?" the Doctor enquired.

"She is dead," the Grandmother replied. "The boy was barely a year old. He cannot remember her."

"I see." The Doctor hesitated, for this was a part of such interviews that he thoroughly disliked, then went on firmly. "Madam, we are wandering away from the point of this discussion. This essay. It is extremely... disquieting that the boy should invent, not one, but two races so... so undesirable socially. His teacher was at first pleased with the quality of the work, then, on re-reading it, he became disturbed, and questioned the boy as to the source of the story. Madam, your grandson said he dreamed it - and further, that he frequently dreamed about these people.

"Naturally, the teacher reported the incident to me, and I spoke to the boy. He was perfectly open about it. He even referred to the people in his dreams as 'his friends'." The School Doctor allowed an expression of faint distaste to show momentarily. "Madam, I must be frank about this. It means that your grandson is showing definite indications of abnormality in his emotional development. It should be attended to as soon as possible - otherwise lasting harm might result."

The Grandmother considered for a moment. "You will, of course, deal only with those parts of his mind that concern the dreams." It was a statement, not a question.

"Of course."

* * * * * * * *

Spock lay on his bed aware of a terrible feeling of loneliness and loss. He couldn't think what was missing, only that something was gone that should have been there... should have been...

The Vulcan way of life flowed placidly on, even and serene.

But for one lonely Vulcan there was forever a blank in his life that he could not understand.

For, of course, love - especially an imaginary love that serves no other purpose than to satisfy the emotional requirements of a lonely small boy - is totally illogical.


Copyright Sheila Clark